I recently came to the conclusion that 37 is my absolute favorite age. I’ve been this age for several months, and every time the phrase “I’m 37” pops into my head, I’m left to flesh out that statement with a more elaborate one: “I’m 37, I’m not old.”
Go ahead. Google that phrase. “I’m 37, I’m not old.” What you will quickly find is that this is what the constitutional peasant Dennis says to King Arthur in an early scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. After Arthur mistakenly addresses him as “Old woman!” and Dennis tells Arthur that he’s actually a man, he qualifies his age. When Arthur describes his right as king to be based on how the Lady of the Lake gave him Excalibur, Dennis goes to great lengths to explain why “strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.” Being 37 is my favorite age because, quite simply, it’s the same age as a character who defines one of my favorite scenes in any movie of all time, ever.
And, since my birthday isn’t until December 31, I get to be my favorite age for quite a bit longer.
But, while my age may be full of delightful whimsy, my goal for this year of my life is less glamorous. I recently hired an outreach specialist named Lori to help me make meaningful connections to more prospective clients. Though I’ve enjoyed success ghostwriting and editing books for a number of years, I’m seeking to complement that work with helping people beyond the book industry to craft effective messages. This will include consulting with TEDx speakers, instructors, and other people responsible for attracting others to their ideas. I’m finding more and more that I have a particular affinity for working with thought leaders, and creating something beyond just the pre-determined model of traditional book publishing has tremendous potential for inciting change in our world as a whole. Lori taught me the value of LinkedIn, how to track down difficult-to-find email addresses, and other strategies for making meaningful connections.
But no matter how helpful the tools may be, I’m faced with another issue: reaching out to people I don’t know still feels like an absolutely miserable prospect.
Of course it does. I will be writing people who haven’t asked me to write them, which will make me feel like a door-to-door salesman. And who wants to feel like that? But given the need for me to educate people on how I can help them before I’m actually able to, you know, help them, outreach is a necessary step. I therefore decided I had to do what people decide to do with five-year-olds who don’t want to put on a suit for their aunt’s wedding: make outreach into a game.
Turning something unappealing into a gimmicky, playful exploration can actually work beyond the age of five. Just like a half-time pep talk in a locker room can transform a football team’s awful first half into a platform for redemption, flipping a similar switch in our own minds can transform our lethargy into productivity.
This has led me to embrace a directive for this year. As of today, April 14, I have 38 weeks until the end of the year, which of course is when I turn 38. If I reach out to two people a day five days a week, I will have reached out to 380 people.
According to Dennis, 37 is “not old.” And maybe, by the time I’m done with being the most awesome age of all time, I’ll be “not without visionary clients” as well.